“Little Dark Age” by MGMT is a cryptic yet captivating exploration of the internal battles that come with personal growth and the fear of change. The song delves into the darkness that often engulfs our psyche as we navigate our way through life’s many twists and turns, unveiling hidden facets of our identity.
The opening verse, “Breathing in the dark, lying on its side/ The ruins of the day painted with a scar,” employs poignant imagery to establish a universe of desolation, where the day’s pain and struggle bear the brushstrokes of emotional scars. The line, “The more I straighten out, the less it wants to try,” speaks to the internal tug of war we often experience: the more we try to make sense of our existence and straighten out our life, the more resistance we feel.
When they croon “Oh-oh, forgiving who you are, for what you stand to gain/ Just know that if you hide, it doesn’t go away,” MGMT serves us a hard truth sandwich: attempting to bury our true selves for temporary gain doesn’t erase our inherent identity. The line “When you get out of bed, don’t end up stranded / Horrified with each stone on the stage, my little dark age,” refers to the fear and uncertainty that can surround public exposure, playing out inner turmoil on the world’s stage—our “little dark age.”
The hook, “I grieve in stereo, the stereo sounds strange,” is an intriguing metaphor for dealing with grief in a public sphere. Here “in stereo” could refer to the fact that the pain is amplified and echoed back from multiple directions—like a stereo sound system. An undercurrent of alienation is sensed when the stereo, a supposedly comforting presence, sounds strange, suggesting displacement from familiar comforts.
With the line, “Giddy with delight, seeing what’s to come / The image of the dead, dead ends in my mind,” the song seemingly embraces paradoxes, depicting the excitement for the future tinged with an impending sense of doom. “Policemen swear to God, love seeping from their guns / I know my friends and I would probably turn and run,” is a chilling commentary on the terrifying reality of a society where love and trust have been weaponized, causing individuals to flee instead of seeking solace.
As MGMT sings, “All alone, open-eyed, burn the page, my little dark age,” they suggest a necessary destruction, a need to burn the figurative pages of our past as we attempt to confront and emerge from our “little dark age.” This catchy yet haunting tune is a reminder that our darkest depths often hold the keys to self-discovery and growth.